In case you were busy having lives and/or conducting intensive offline collection development, I wanted to bring Wattpad to your attention again. The social writing site based in Toronto made a big splash at today’s FutureBook conference in London, with impressive stats about its audience.
(For excellent tweets, check out the #fbook13 stream and pay particular attention to Chris McCruden, @cmccrudden.)
I couldn’t help but think how libraries that want to pioneer the publisher idea should work with Wattpad as they work with writers. Anyone out there doing this?
The New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2013, with sample artwork from each.
If this best-o’-the-year roundup illustrates (sorry) anything for me, it’s that fixed format epub (in which I would bet most of these books are published) is moving ever more quickly toward being the standard for picture books. Cloud publishing partner Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is a big believer in it, and we’re building the functionality to read it as I type this.
BTW: my favorite drawings are in Fanny Britt’s Jane, the Fox, and Me from Giller Prize-winning publisher House of Anansi Press.
But when people ask me why one writes picture books for children, I can really answer only for myself. Most of my books are about relationships, friends with friends, brothers with sisters, brothers with brothers, sisters with sisters, parents with children, the interpersonal relationships and the emotions they engender, joy and sorrow, hate and love, admiration and envy, anger and hope. These are all emotions we adults feel, too, but children are coming to everything for the first time, and give in to the immediacy of the moment.
Writing for them, I am really writing for myself. Some adult emotion sets me off, but it is a sort of déjà vu, a double exposure reliving the child’s emotion but reaching back into it with an adult perspective that gives it some protection or explanation.
Reading the beyond-impressive bibliography of esteemed children’s book author and editor Charlotte Zolotow, who died yesterday in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY, reminds me once again of the lack of picture book backlist in ebook form.
I hereby once again endeavor to assist in solving this problem (which you might not think is a problem at all if parents aren’t driving demand for them).
“In 2013, nearly one out of every four children in the U.S. is Hispanic. In 2011, a record 23.9% of pre-K through 12th grade public school students were Hispanic, with similar numbers in public kindergartens and nursery schools.”—
In other words, look forward to a more bilingual Cloud in 2014, with Spain’s Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial (formerly Random House Mondadori) leading the way. (Note: you have already gotten a taste of its catalog via Penguin Random House’s Vintage Español imprint.)
If you’re looking for advice on where to start content- and publisher-wise, start here. López is founding editor of Críticas magazine, the late, great English-language book review of Spanish-language books, so she knows of what she speaks.
This thought has been nagging me for a few years, truth be told, dating back to my tenure as book review editor of Library Journal. And the longer I work with ebooks in the library space, the more I have to wonder at the power of best books lists issued by longtime sources to inspire conversation and sales.
In this niche market, best sellers lists move units more than anything else. This is in large part owing to the size of current library ebook budgets (small, hovering around six percent of total collections budgets) and the price tag of some Big Five titles (high). If there’s not much money to play with, then libraries have to go for the ebooks with the most demand behind them, the logic goes.
Derek Jeter is already one of baseball’s immortals. Once he finally retires from the game, the New York Yankee shortstop will be a shoo-in for a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. He’ll get a bronze plaque, in a spot not far from similar plaques honoring Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson .
For avid sports collection development staff, a big FYI. I don’t know who said it on Twitter, but a big plus-one to the sentiment of “Get ready for some disappointments, Jeter. Publishing is hard.”
“What helped me to continue writing—apart from the ethical imperative to find some truth and meaning in the injustices that I uncovered—was the fact that there are many people today who complain that they are tired of hearing about the Holocaust, simply wish that the history would go away, and assume that we know all there is to know. But we are still uncovering millions of pages and hundreds of thousands of life stories of people who have no voice today and who would be forgotten if not for the work of the scholars in this field. We are still piecing together that puzzle of what happened and trying to understand why.”—
And Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell is the one YA novel on the list.
Add this to Publishers Weekly's top picks, announced last week. Note that only eight of Amazon’s selections are currently available as ebooks to libraries. Two from Macmillan, Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park and David Finkel’s Thank You for Your Service, are not yet backlist.
I will give you a heads-up when they are for sale.
“In short, Angry Robot is doing an awful job emulating the bigger publishing houses. They have ruined my life by making available more books than I can possibly read in any reasonable amount of time. I’m sure that my eyesight will eventually go from staring at my tablet screen for so long, and when it does, I will blame them.”—
Fan mail in the form of “hate” mail to Angry Robot Books (the successful sci-fi/fantasy imprint of the Osprey Group), which comes to the Cloud via Random House Publisher Services. Cloud librarians have likely noticed Angry Robot titles in my Top New Releases spreadsheet lately because they are a means to discover new voices.
Yesterday, I shared my thoughts about what a library ebook marketer does when she can’t find trusted U.S. book reviews of first- or even second-time authors published by UK or Canadian presses imported here (such as those from Angry Robot, who deal with a fair amount of Americans).
OK, so this is a humorous trick book review of sorts, but it reminded me that I’ve been using Goodreads a lot lately while researching imported titles from Canada and the UK (of which the Cloud gets a ton from its relationships with Independent Publishers Group and Random House Publisher Services).
In the absence of U.S. book reviews from the usual suspects, Goodreads is proving to be a good place to go to get the timbre of genre fiction (say, oh, I don’t know, sci-fi dervied from the Angry Robot Books imprint of Osprey Publishing). Often these titles are from first-time authors with zero track record. Making things more difficult is the lack of metadata (scant plot synposis, nonexistent author biography).
What’s a marketer wanting to promote new voices to do? Read the Goodreads tags for starters and, of course, the reviews. I know that genre fiction performs well generally in the library market, and if it strikes me that a newbie has control of tropes, etc., in her ebook goes into my Top New Releases spreadsheet.
A notable exception is HarperCollins, which is including over 9,000 titles in the program. Just nine of those were published in the last 90 days, suggesting this is largely a play to spur ebook sales of older titles.
(Note, too, that HarperCollins is the only big-five publisher making its older ebooks available to ebook subscription services Oyster and Scribd.)
Laura Hazard Owen citing Cloud publishing partner HarperCollins as one of the few Big Five presses making a significant number of titles available in Amazon’s new Kindle MatchBook program, which bundles print books with discounted ebooks.
It goes without saying that I would love to have a similar paradigm in the Cloud, except flipped: buy e, get discounted p. A marketer can dream.
“In most cases, paper books have more obvious topography than on-screen text. An open paper book presents a reader with two clearly defined domains—the left- and right-hand pages—and a total of eight corners with which to orient oneself. You can focus on a single page of a paper book without losing awareness of the whole text. You can even feel the thickness of the pages you have read in one hand and the pages you have yet to read in the other. Turning the pages of a paper book is like leaving one footprint after another on a trail—there is a rhythm to it and a visible record of how far one has traveled. All these features not only make the text in a paper book easily navigable, they also make it easier to form a coherent mental map of that text.”—
I’m not a romanticist when it comes to paper, but I do still prefer paper format for books. This excerpt sums up why; I remember better the physical books I read, especially due to the geography of the book.
My good friend who does ebook quality assurance (QA) would tell you that the same care that goes into designing print books does not carry over to ebooks just yet. There’s a lot of work to be done to create the most ideal digital reading experience.
Many correctly argue that Amazon has disintermediated publishers with the Kindle, not to mention its numerous programs (read about Kindle MatchBook, its new print-and-ebook bundling innovation).
Design is one area I’ve long publishers could own to inspire the loyalty of power readers. Make ebooks smart and pretty because readers like smart and pretty things, virtual or not. And as Ferris Jabr points out above, a cleanly designed page means readers can have an honest relationship with the page.